State school chief explains his endorsement of voucher proponent

Regarding my post a few minutes ago, the state Department of Education has now sent me state School Superintendent John Barge’s explanation for his endorsement of state Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, a leading voucher proponent in the Georgia General Assembly.

Rogers is facing fellow Republican Brandon Beach next week in a primary for his north Fulton/Cherokee seat.

Here is a letter that Barge sent out explaining his decision to back Rogers in this GOP primary race:

Dear Superintendents:

I have been contacted today by several friends expressing some concern over my endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers in his current primary and some statements Senator Rogers attributed to me.

Please allow me to set the record straight.

Chip was one of the first Republican elected officials to endorse my candidacy for Superintendent.  We agree on many conservative issues. One issue we disagree on is vouchers for education.

Unfortunately, it appears that his website erroneously reported that I support “market-based reform,” which sounds like a more palatable way of saying vouchers.  This was an unintentional error that he will correct very shortly.   I have very clearly stated my opposition to Senator Rogers regarding vouchers.

Reasonable people can disagree on important issues and still see the importance of working together for the greater good.   And while I know the cuts to public education over the past several years are crippling to many of you, I maintain hope that, should the Senate Majority Leader win his bid for re-election, we can work together to begin to restore some funding to your struggling systems.

Our students, educators, and all who are involved in our public education system can rest assured that they have a tireless champion and advocate as their State Superintendent of Schools. I will continue, as I always have, to oppose any and all voucher programs that I believe undermine the strength of our public education system.

Sincerely,

Dr. John Barge

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

140 comments Add your comment

bootney farnsworth

July 27th, 2012
12:11 pm

covering your butt already?

Holly Jones

July 27th, 2012
12:14 pm

@bootney- my thoughts exactly!

bootney farnsworth

July 27th, 2012
12:16 pm

I guess he thought it wouldn’t get out.

I have mixed feelings about Sen. Rogers, but I don’t think he’d have deliberately made this up. too much to lose for someone who has ambitions to be the Governor

Dunwoody Mom

July 27th, 2012
12:17 pm

I maintain hope that, should the Senate Majority Leader win his bid for re-election, we can work together to begin to restore some funding to your struggling systems.

LOL…Chip Rogers has absolutely no desire, no intention of restoring funding to public school systems.

Holly Jones

July 27th, 2012
12:21 pm

Amen, Dunwoody Mom! No intention whatsoever. And Bootney- no, I don’t think Chip made it up. It’s all part of protecting those incumbents. Barge just didn’t think through to Step 2- how will this look to thinking, rational people? A failing of many in the educational “leadership” field.

Freddrick Peterson

July 27th, 2012
12:25 pm

This morning, I got an e-mail in my inbox relating to this issue — ‘Chip’ping Away at Public Education? Recent Endorsements Touted by Rogers’ Campaign Raise Concerns: http://www.empoweredga.org/Articles/chipping-away-1.html

Jane W.

July 27th, 2012
12:26 pm

Kudos, Superintendent Barge, on the Rogers endorsement.

But you should pay close attention to the education innovations now taking place in Louisiana—because parents, especially those inner-city parents victimized generation after generation by failing traditional public schools, deserve real reforms in education!

And obviously the NEA and other unions will continue to target reformers.

Dunwoody Mom

July 27th, 2012
12:31 pm

“Jane”, the whole “voucher” system in LA is a farce. They are now allowing giving money to schools to teach creationism…schools with no desks, books or computers are receiving voucher money, etc. Mark my words, the voucher program in Louisiana will soon find itself in a LARGE legal mess.

Dunwoody Mom

July 27th, 2012
12:33 pm

Now Governor Jindal has passed a voucher plan which provides millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools that teach creationism and whose curriculum doesn’t meet the state’s approved science standards

Charters, vouchers, it doesn’t matter. This “public choice” is nothing but a smokescreen to have taxpayers pay for private schools.

Robert

July 27th, 2012
12:35 pm

I know John personally, and have for decades he is all about education, honesty, and hard work. You would be rich if you got paid for every misstatement/misrepresentation knowingly made by Chip. Don’t take me at my word, just Google: Chip Rogers, news, banks, mortgage fraud, investigations, bankruptcy,…

dc

July 27th, 2012
12:38 pm

The Empire (the establishment educrats…of course) is going to have to go into hyperdrive hyperventilation mode to trash the article in the Wall Street Journal today by Joel Klein about how well NYC’s public charter schools are performing. I can’t wait to see the vitriol and excuses that come out…..

After all, any success that non-traditional education achieves must be completely trashed and discredited, or the bureaucrats might lose their positions and power!!

td

July 27th, 2012
12:39 pm

Dr. Barge is the best thing to happen to Education in Georgia in my lifetime (and I am pretty old).

If you will remember back to the primary in 2009, John was a complete unknown with no prior political involvement, he was running against an incumbent and then Cox suddenly decided to not run for re election. Sonny attempted to infuse his hand picked man into the job and it was Chip that came out and said that he thought John was the right man for the job and endorsed him. This gave legitimacy to his campaign and the establishment started to rally around. I do not blame him for endorsing Chip right now and it shows me that he has appreciation for people that helped him in the past.

C. Waller

July 27th, 2012
12:41 pm

Over 90% of Ga students go to public schools. That will not change. Seems like are Republican friends are more interested in representing the less than 10 %

Mandingo

July 27th, 2012
12:43 pm

“Reasonable people can disagree on important issues and still see the importance of working together for the greater good.” John Barge

Damn…….does he know he is a Johnny Reb Republican that lives in Georgia ????????

carlosgvv

July 27th, 2012
12:46 pm

Dunwoody Mom – 12:31

Of course you know the LA model is the very one large numbers of “compassionate conservatives” are trying, with all their might, to impose on our students.

jd

July 27th, 2012
12:50 pm

Watch out — T-Splost opponents don’t like tax money being used to support causes/candidates

Ed Advocate

July 27th, 2012
12:52 pm

-1,000 credibility points Barge. Very disappointing.

Centrist

July 27th, 2012
12:57 pm

Charter schools that are not affiliated with religions make sense. They offer local alternatives to public education where it is not working for individual students, but allows some of the parents’ tax dollars to follow them. There is a large volunteer and financial “co-pay” mix, so it is not going to replace public education – but competition and choice (short of moving) is good for both.

No doubt organized teacher groups and public school administrations will always resist competition and dilution of their monopolistic bureaucracy. It is the parents/ voters who see the value of charter schools, and are electing representatives to push it forward in the face of resistance.

Amazed

July 27th, 2012
1:15 pm

Stunningly naive endorsement!

Mary Elizabeth

July 27th, 2012
1:21 pm

State School Superintendent John Barge’s words, in his letter above, regarding his endorsement of state Sen. Chip Rogers in the upcoming Republican primary election: “Chip was one of the first Republican elected officials to endorse my candidacy for Superintendent.”

In a recent post, I had explained to a fellow poster how the political phenomenon of “I’ll scratch your back, if you’ll scratch mine” works in Georgia’s politics, even unfortunately in Georgia’s educational politics.

It appears that we can all see it in action, here.

td

July 27th, 2012
1:24 pm

Mary Elizabeth

July 27th, 2012
1:21 pm

And this is a bad thing, how? How do you believe things get done in the legislature?

Mary Elizabeth

July 27th, 2012
1:25 pm

Of course, that’s just my opinion.(at 1:21 pm)

bootney farnsworth

July 27th, 2012
1:27 pm

of course this kind of crap is a bad thing.

what’s worse is that more than a few people agree with it.

bootney farnsworth

July 27th, 2012
1:28 pm

once again, the cover up/spin is always worse than the actual activity

Jefferson

July 27th, 2012
1:36 pm

Vouchers won’t work.

Mary Elizabeth

July 27th, 2012
1:38 pm

@ td, 1:24 pm

“And this is a bad thing, how? How do you believe things get done in the legislature?”
================================================

Let’s simply say that I would like for the focus in Georgia’s Legislature, in the area of education, to be completely on students’ needs, not on politics for personal advantages.

You might say that, as a dedicated, retired teacher who had spent my entire professional life focusing on, and working for, students’ educational needs, I am appealing for a higher standard to be forthcoming in Georgia’s politics than has been displayed in previous years, especially in the area of education.

MsCrabtree

July 27th, 2012
1:40 pm

Chip Rogers will NEVER be part of restoring funding to public schools. No Republican will.

Jane W.

July 27th, 2012
2:09 pm

Superintendent Barge, at this point rather more than half of the teachers’ union surrogates who frequent this blog have already registered their shock and dismay. Some doing so using multiple names. I trust you’re still standing? Excellent news!

Let their “stuck pig” howls continue to guide your direction in finding real solutions to our state’s enduring public education problems.

Mary Elizabeth

July 27th, 2012
2:14 pm

“Starving the beast of government” is going to “starve” public education, its students, its teachers, even its parents, ultimately.

Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, was a strong proponent of public education. Seeing today’s educational politics in operation, perhaps citizens can, now, better understand why.

MM

July 27th, 2012
2:16 pm

Trading your vote for his is not moral. That’s a simple market exchange which is another way of selling your vote. You don’t deserve to be State Superintendent of PUBLIC schools if you’re just going to be another sell-out to the powers-that-be.

Rogers is the worst kind of opportunist whose knee-jerk response is “private sector, private sector” to any policy question. No need to think things out. You can bet on it. Whoops, that’s right,Chip already did.

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2012
2:20 pm

@Jane, None of the folks who has posted today has done so under multiple names. However, I can’t speak to your candor as your IP address is home to another frequent poster.
Almost all the posters on this entry uses their names in their email addresses and their emails are bona fide.
Many posters on the blog also communicate with me via email and phone or introduce themselves to me at conferences. They are not veiled in secrecy as are the posters who do, in fact, play act on this blog.
And you folks know who you are.
Maureen

Google "NEA" and "donations"

July 27th, 2012
2:35 pm

@Mary Elizabeth:

Thomas Jefferson has emailed from the grave to take exception to your repeated misrepresentation of his support for “education of the public.”

That’s what “public education” referred to back then.

There were no public schools in his day. Nor for decades after. And if he were around to witness the stubborn failures so common among traditional public schools—he’d likely be leading the charter school/tuition voucher reform movements you so vehemently oppose.

Making you his opponent.

living in an outdated ed system

July 27th, 2012
2:39 pm

Kudos to Barge for doing the right thing for Georgia.

living in an outdated ed system

July 27th, 2012
2:42 pm

@Maureen, you know where my blog is, and you probably know that I garner respect from some of the nation’s leading thinkers on education reform. I would very much look forward to meeting you and having an intellectual discussion about why you should disagree with me a lot less than you do. I certainly have no reason to hide behind any personas. I just wish you’d be more objective and not always taking the position of Ms. Ravitch and the teachers unions. And that is why I firmly believe the AJC should have two blogs on education. I mean, Education Week has a zillion blogs on education. What’s one more in Atlanta????

Bernie

July 27th, 2012
2:43 pm

Now that we have the State of Georgia’s Education Superintendent on record supporting the major proponent of the State of Georgia latest SCHOOL SEGREGATION plan proposal better known as school vouchers.

The educational system in Georgia has just reversed (50) fifty years progress in one statement. A very SAD day for many our children and parents in the STATE OF GEORGIA!

Ed Advocate

July 27th, 2012
2:52 pm

@Jane (and any alternate names you use here), how long will you keep up your efforts to create a straw man out of “teacher unions” their “surrogates”? No matter how many times you prop this falsehood up, the thoughtful posters here correct you. I hate to feed the trolls, but the adults who post and read here are growing tired of your childish tantrums, and your insistence on changing the subject from the topic at hand diminishes the quality of this blog and the ideas of the legit posters who share ideas here.

Maureen, thanks, as always for providing and moderating a safe and thoughtful place to share ideas about education topics like today’s post on Dr. Barge and Chip Rogers. I hope the AJC can soon roll out a platform that bars multiple screen names from the same IP address and requires legitimate email addresses.

Sincerely, a Legit Get Schooled Fan with a Real Email Address

td

July 27th, 2012
2:56 pm

Bernie

July 27th, 2012
2:43 pm

Now as a conservative and one that does not support the Charter school movement, I can tell you your statement is total crap. The whole movement is about the parents that care about their children’s education versus the parents that do not. I have never read any study that states one race of people care more then an other.

A Teacher

July 27th, 2012
3:15 pm

First of all I want to state as a 30 year veteran teacher, I have never had a union represent me. The plight of the teacher in this state would be much better if we did have a union represent us. It is apparent that the State Superintendant of Education is not interested in teachers, if he endorses Chip Rogers. As of right now I have 8 furlough days and have just been told that once money runs out for substitutes that it will then be the responsibility of teachers to add even more work to their work day. When you get to the point to where the State Superintendant doesn’t support teachers you have reached a sorry state of affairs.

MM

July 27th, 2012
3:15 pm

td,

I can’t look into the hearts of parents and see how much they care for their children but I can read the results of scientific surveys that reveal differences between different groups of parents when it comes to time spent helping kids with homework, reading to kids, and many other measurements. I hate to say it but among these differences are race, economic status, education of parents, martial status of parents and more. Just wishing race and income away doesn’t make it happen. Color blind just winds up being blind.

We have problems that we should not ignore but actually do something about. And we should not expect charter schools or great teachers to solve these great societal problems everywhere they need solving.

apples and oranges

July 27th, 2012
3:19 pm

“The Empire (the establishment educrats…of course) is going to have to go into hyperdrive hyperventilation mode to trash the article in the Wall Street Journal today by Joel Klein about how well NYC’s public charter schools are performing.”

This is apples and oranges. See below

“New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has opened well over 100 charter schools during his tenure, mostly in high-poverty communities.”

Chip and his cronies are not trying to establish 100 charter schools. They are trying to create a small handful of them so his buddies’ kids can go there instead of going to school with minorities, the COMPLETE opposite of what Bloomberg did. I dare you to check the stats on the minorities that attend his token academy in Cherokee County or poll how many Hispanics even knew it existed during the lottery period.

td

July 27th, 2012
3:25 pm

MM

July 27th, 2012
3:15 pm

I do not disagree with your statement. We have a parent and a cultural problem (and I mean cultural as in not placing education as the number 1 priority of child rearing across races) in this nation and until the majority of this nation wakes up and is willing to call out and hold their family, friends and neighbors accountable then nothing is going to change dramatically in education.

This is the main reason I am against the Charter school movement. The movement will delay for a longer period of time that day when the people that care about education rises up to confront the parenting priorities of the parents that do not care.

Jane W

July 27th, 2012
3:26 pm

Maureen, your surprisingly jejune boast that “none of the folks who has posted today has done so under multiple names” … surely has the paid, social media activists at teachers’ union headquarters feeling far smugger than they have a right to.

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2012
3:32 pm

@Jane, I am delighted to have folks from everywhere post. What I don’t like are posters who counter any disagreement with the baseless allegation that Poster A, B and C are the same person.
Let me tell you one simple fact: This blog has a lot of readers. In fact, it has many more thousands of readers than it has posters. Posters with sense ought to direct their comments to the larger readership, the thousands of folks who read this blog without commenting. Make your case strongly to those readers.
I don’t get the time and attention spent sniping at people with aliases while using an alias.
By the way, I can’t recall the last time I spoke with anyone from one of the real teacher’s unions. My local reporting doesn’t require it because Georgia does not have unions.
In fact, the only place I hear about unions is here on the blog and it’s from the same three posters.

Maureen

Tony

July 27th, 2012
3:33 pm

Mr. Barge has certainly been good for the state in his role as State Superintendent of Schools. That does not mean that I have to agree with him on everything, and endorsing Chip Rogers might be politically expedient it is not the right thing for Georgia.

JustTheFactsPlease

July 27th, 2012
3:36 pm

Take Note Taxpayers: Chip doesn’t have any endorsements. For the most powerful lawmaker in GA, for someone who has signs saying “Taxpayer’s Best Friend” he can’t get any endorsements. He had Barge, and the statement had question marks if you will re-read it and then Jeb Bush, who is in Florida..the State that is benefiting from Chip’s legislation. Maybe Chip’s signs should have said, “Florida’s best friend”…He’s got ethics problems, and that’s putting it mildly. This “fiscal conservative” has been spending OUR tax dollars and taking control of OUR decisions. He was WILL THE WINNER..they now have documentation he lied. He’s desperate. Don’t buy into his lies. BOOT CHIP! His job as a handicapper will be waiting on him when he pushing through legislation to have gambling in GA and our public school money will be on the express train to Florida’s Charter Schools, USA…because they are now having financial problems, including a multi-million dollar lawsuit at one of their schools where a 7-year old was molested and the charter school, managed by Charter Schools USA didn’t protect the child from the molester and it happened a second time. Who do you think will be wanting OUR tax dollars to help shore up that settlement? Chip, Danny Dukes and Kelly Marlow. Vote against the 3 Stooges!

incredulous

July 27th, 2012
3:40 pm

Interetingly, the same claims of “cultural differences” we’re espoused when Native Americans weren’t quick enough to assimilate. Similar to religion at spear point. The term cultural dissonance come to mind.

Mary Elizabeth

July 27th, 2012
4:00 pm

@Google “NEA” and “donations,” 2:35 pm

“That’s what ‘public education’ referred to back then.”
=================================

Jefferson would never have wanted the wealthy elite to control the voices of the masses; afterall, it was Jefferson who had penned, “all . . . are created equal” – the concept from which Lincoln drew for the words in his Gettysburg Address: “. . .that government of. . . ,by. . . , and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

It is the wealthy, powerful elite of this nation who are trying to dismantle public education to form a private sector, business educational model. (See ALEC, of which Chip Rogers is a leading member.) Many of those private sector operated schools would exist for profit for the few, unlike the public educational model, which is based on service to all citizens’ children, and not based on profit. The public sector, governmental model is paid for by taxes from the masses.

Jefferson had even designed a plan for public education in Virginia, paid for by the taxes of the public, but Virginia’s legislators would not pass Jefferson’s public education bill because there was not a large middle class in Virginia in that day, and the wealthy Virginia legislators did not want to “foot the bill” for the education of the poorer children (the masses), for which Jefferson had advocated. Jefferson advocated for the education for all of America’s citizens.

I have never written that Thomas Jefferson was able to accomplish establishing public education while he lived. I only said that he had advocated for public education – while he lived. (Later, probably, in part, because of Jefferson’s earlier plans and advocacy, public education was established, after he had died.) You are playing semantic games with the word “public,” in my opinion. Jefferson supported public education. Read his letters and other writings. See, below, for two examples.
========================================

The words of Thomas Jefferson in his letter to George Wythe:

“I think by far the most important bill in our whole code, is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness. . .Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish and improve the law for educating the common people. . .the tax which will be paid for this purpose, is not more than the thousandth par of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles, who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.”
——————————————————————–

Words of Jefferson from his “Notes on the State of Virginia”:

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. . .And [sic] amendment of our (Virginia’s) constitution must here come in aid of the public education. The influence over government must be shared among all the people. If every individual [not just the wealthy and politically powerful, I will add]. . . participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe.”

————————————————————————-

catlady

July 27th, 2012
4:07 pm

” I don’t think he’d have deliberately made this up.”

Hahahahahaha, Dr. Barge. Robert (above) has Chip nailed. Barge needs to be careful. When you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

Jane W

July 27th, 2012
4:15 pm

“No teachers’ unions in Georgia,” Maureen?

The Georgia Association of Educators claims 40,000+ members. Every working teacher among them pays not only dues to state & local chapters—but an extra $168 yearly just to belong to the National Education Association, a self-described labor union: http://www.nea.org/home/18469.htm

The fact the NEA cannot force educators to join as a condition of employment or cripple school systems with strikes or other militant activities—doesn’t make them liars about their organizational status.

And it certainly doesn’t mean they’re not using vast resources to promote liberal-left causes and candidates. Readers are invited to do a web search on “NEA” and “donations” to see that spelled out.

The unions fight in Georgia to block reforms—charter schools, for instance—that endanger their union revenues here and potentially (therefore) in every other state. The film WAITING FOR SUPERMAN makes that clear enough.

But as a liberal working for a solidly Democrat partisan newspaper it’s understandable you’d rather not focus on how any of this affects the education debate.

Maureen Downey

July 27th, 2012
4:28 pm

@Jane, I have said this a dozen times but here I go again: If you think Georgia teachers have unions, then you have no idea what a union is or what it can do. Spend a month in a true union state and then talk to me.
Maureen